Desperate to snap a four-game losing streak and avoid falling further back in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Carolina Hurricanes picked up a win in their latest game.
The Toronto Maple Leafs could use a similar sense of urgency.
The Hurricanes try to pull into a tie for the East's No. 8 seed Wednesday night when they host the fading Maple Leafs, who have lost four of five to fall six points out of a postseason spot.
It looked like both Carolina (32-28-10) and Toronto might wind up in the playoffs on March 3. The Hurricanes had won three of four to jump into seventh place, while the Maple Leafs (30-30-10) had put together a 6-0-3 stretch to climb into 10th place - just three points behind the then-No. 8 New York Rangers.
Both teams have struggled since, but Carolina got two critical points Tuesday after going 0-3-1 during its previous four games. Four points behind eighth-place Buffalo heading into the night, the Hurricanes cut that deficit in half by beating the host Sabres 1-0 on the strength of 40 saves from Cam Ward and Brandon Sutter's late first-period goal.
"We knew we had to treat tonight like our game was going to change our season," Sutter said. "If things didn't go our way it would've been a different story."
The Maple Leafs are 1-3-1 since their nine-game unbeaten run ended March 5 and now trail the Sabres by six points. They beat Buffalo 4-3 on Saturday but couldn't keep that momentum going Monday in a lifeless 6-2 home loss to Tampa Bay.
"We expected more out of ourselves. We expected more but the biggest thing is now we move forward," captain Dion Phaneuf said. "You can't dwell on games, especially this time of the year. You've got to park both the good and the bad ones and this one's no different."
A big part of Toronto's problem over the past eight games has been a lack of production on the power play. The Leafs have one goal in 32 chances (3.1 percent) in that stretch.
The Hurricanes can relate. Carolina is in an 0-for-27 slump with the man advantage that stretches back seven games, and it's 2 for 54 (3.7 percent) in its past 14.
Each team totaled three power-play goals in their first two meetings this season, both Hurricanes victories. There was no scoring with the man advantage Feb. 3 at Air Canada Centre, but James Reimer stopped 27 shots to record his first NHL shutout in a 3-0 Toronto victory.
Reimer, who burst on to the scene with a 12-4-3 record and 2.28 goals-against average after being called up in mid-December, seems to have hit a wall lately. He has a 4.42 GAA in the Maple Leafs' last five games.
"I feel like I'm doing what I did a couple games ago and pucks just aren't hitting me," Reimer said.
Reimer's struggles weren't the only bad news to come out of Monday's loss to the Lightning. Forward Colby Armstrong suffered a broken foot that will likely sideline him for the season.
Toronto called up Nazem Kadri, the seventh overall pick in the 2009 entry draft, to take his place.
The Maple Leafs have given up the first goal in their last seven games, and falling behind early is no way to beat the Hurricanes. Carolina is a league-best 17-0-1 when leading after the first period.